[LINK] IT matters of interest in the 2006/2007 Federal Budget

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue May 9 21:03:17 EST 2006

Just about every year since the Australian Federal Budget was first 
put on the web I have done a quick search though the documents to 
find matters of interest in information technology.

This year there appears to be a rundown of explicit IT related budget 
programs, apart from the $1.1 billion welfare smart card 

Given previous expenditure on infrastructure, a little on Internet 
content will go a long way. As an example, Health and Ageing are 
spending $0.4M on funding for "telephone counselling, self help and 
web-based support programmes". While $400,000 does not sound like 
much, if it is spend just on creating content it can make a 
significance difference 


Each past year the budget web site has got better. The 2006-7 site 
<http://www.budget.gov.au/> is good with only small ministerial 
photos and puff (11.08 kB
of HTML and 29.85  kB with graphics) and it even works on a mobile 
phone. The home page passed automated Level 1 and 2 tests and failed 
on only two lever three tests ("Include default, place-holding 
characters  in edit boxes and text areas" and "Separate adjacent 
links with more than whitespace"). Last year the page failed level 2 
and level 3.

That is the good news, the bad news is that the accessibility problem 
which marred last years effort is still present. Important tables in 
the overview are presented as blurry little image files and the PDF 
versions of the documents are still excessively large.


Introduced in 2003, the budget web site has a useful search service, 
but it seems a little less useful this year than last. Entering 
"Information Technology" returned 25 results (down from 38 last 
year). But almost all these references appear to be in the name of 
the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

Some items of interest from the search:

ASIC's budgeted equity (or net asset position) for 2006-07 is 
expected to be $9.8 million. This includes additional capital funding 
of $6.5 million associated with the following measures: Broadening 
ASIC's surveillance capability; Enhancement of information technology 
security and risk management; and Electronic registration of charges. 

The Government will cease funding the Basic Information Technology 
Enabling Skills for Older Workers (BITES) Programme after 30 June 
2006, resulting in savings of $23.0 million over four years.

BITES currently provides accredited training to mature age people in 
the labour force who are low income earners and have no post-school 
qualifications in IT. Similar assistance will remain available 
through programmes such as Employment Preparation (formerly 
Transition to Work) in the Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio.

The increased expense in the communication sub-function between 
2005-06 and 2006-07 is due to the telecommunications programmes 
Connect Australia and Metro Broadband Blackspots, which commenced in 
2005 06. The overall decline in the sub-function from 2006-07 to 
2009-10 reflects the conclusion of telecommunications and information 
technology initiatives, including the Telstra Social Bonus 2, the 
response to the Telecommunications Service (Besley) Inquiry, and the 
Building on IT Strengths, Metro Broadband Blackspots and the Connect 
Australia programmes. 

Comments on previous budgets:

1996 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9608/0096.html>
1997 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9705/0315.html>
1998 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9805/0174.html>
1999 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9905/0265.html>
2000 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0005/0358.html>
2002 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0205/0318.html>
2004 <http://mailman.anu.edu.au/pipermail/link/2004-May/056673.html>
2005 <http://www.archivum.info/link@mailman.anu.edu.au/2005-05/msg00035.html>

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
http://www.tomw.net.au                PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617
Visiting Fellow, Computer Science, Australian National University  

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